Notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel dead at 78

Screencap of Zundel's appearance on CBC's 'The Fifth Estate' in 1993. Credit: CBC/The Fifth Estate YouTube.

The notorious Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel has died, aged 78, according to a statement from his wife.

Zundel was born in Germany in 1939 but moved to Canada in 1958.

In 1985, he was found guilty of willfully publishing “false news” after distributing a leaflet titled: “Did six million really die?”.

The Supreme Court of Canada would later overturn this conviction as it contravened his charter right to freedom of expression.

Zundel had twice failed to gain Canadian citizenship but did spend time in the United States. He was deported back to Canada for an alleged immigration violations in 2003.

He spent many years living in Toronto, but this changed in 2005, after the Federal Court of Canada declared him a national security threat, due to his links to neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

Mr. Justice Pierre Blais described Ernst Zundel as a man who had cultivated a false image of a pacifist to mask his support for violent white supremacism and antisemitism. Adding that “Mr. Zundel’s activities are not only a threat to Canada’s national security but also a threat to the international community of nations.”

He had been in solitary confinement in a Toronto prison since 2003.

His deportation to Germany soon followed.

Under German law, distributing Nazi propaganda or to deny the Holocaust, inciting racial hatred and disparaging the dead, may result in a custodial sentence.

For years, Zundel had published materials like “Why I love Hitler,” describing Hitler as “a very decent man and a very peaceful man” in a 1993 interview.

From his Canadian home, Zundel posted extreme race hate and Holocaust denial materials to Germany. At its height, he sent: “hundreds of packages; three mailings a week. Books that claimed the gas chambers were a hoax; videos praising Adolf Hitler’s “Germania”, a newsletter announcing his speaking tours; even stickers”.

Canadian authorities did place a temporary block on Zundel’s postal activates, but the internet gave him a whole new audience. At its height, he would boast that his website had received over a million hits each month.

In 2007, a German court found Zundel guilty of 14 counts of inciting racial hatred, including contributing to a Holocaust denial website. The global nature of this website allowed German authorities to pursue prosecution.

His five-year prison sentence is the greatest punishment afforded to Holocaust deniers under German law.

Zundel’s own lawyer, Sylvia Stolz, would later be jailed for inciting racial hatred. She signed a motion during Zundel’s trial with “Heil Hitler” and called for the death penalty against lay judges.

The trial was temporarily delayed after Ms. Stolz had appointed another notorious Holocaust denier, Horst Mahler, a disbarred lawyer, as her legal assistant.

Zundel left prison in 2010.

Earlier this year, Indigo Books & Music removed books praising Hitler and questioning the Holocaust, including The Hitler We Loved and Why, written by Zundel under the pseudonym Christof Friedrich.